Deadly limo crash raises safety questions - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Deadly limo crash raises safety questions

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WSIL -- Limousines and party buses are used for get-togethers and celebrations, just like the limo being used Saturday afternoon taking friends to a 30th birthday party in upstate New York. 

The driver blew a stop sign, killing everyone inside the vehicle and two pedestrians.

Limousine services in southern Illinois stay busy with events like homecoming, weddings, and wine trail tours.

In the state of Illinois, passenger vehicles like party buses, school buses, and limos must be inspected every six months, but that doesn't mean every service is complying with state law. 

John Stoecklin owns VIP Services in Marion. A company that has ten commercial vehicles like party buses and limos. 

"These are not your typical vehicles, the wheel base is much longer, it's not like pulling a boat," Stoecklin said. "You have to know how to take turns where you can get into and you have to know that before getting into a situation you might not be able to get out of."

In Illinois, limos, along with other commercial vehicles, must be inspected twice a year. 

Ernie Lyell works at Hale's Safety Lane Truck Stop in Marion. A shop where bus services and limo companies can have their vehicles inspected. 

"We're checking to make sure nothing is going to break or fall apart underneath and that the front end is safe," Lyell said, "First thing we do is bring the vehicle across the brake machine and then the alignment machine."

The Illinois Department of Transportation designed a check list for commercial vehicles that must be completed by a mechanic before the limo or party bus clears inspection. 

Even though the state requires the check-up, doesn't mean drivers are complying with the law.

"A lot of times, especially if people retire and decide they are going to buy a limo to make some extra money on the weekends, they just don't know all the rules," Stoecklin said. "They don't get a separate license plate and they just decided to use their plates on their Chevy van."

Stoecklin says the best way to know if you're safe riding in a commercial vehicle is to ask, "If you're going to rent from anyone, myself or anybody else, ask who you are renting from if they do a regular compliance inspection. Make the company show you the documents if you want."

If the limo has been approved by the state, a sticker will on the windshield, the window between the driver and the passenger, or the window of the right rear door. And if the company has insurance, there will be another sticker on the windshield. 

Limousine drivers do not need a special license, but driers chauffeuring 16 or more people do need a Commercial Driver's License (CDL).

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